Back-to-School STEM / STEAM challenges are a great way to build community, establish procedures, and get to know how your kids tick! Plus, they’re a great intro to forces and interactions and Newton’s three laws of motion, which are part of 3rd, 5th grade and middle school NGSS standards! (3PS2-1, 5PS2-1, MS-PS2-1, and MS-PS2-2)
The basic premise:
Students work in partners or groups against criteria & constraints lists to design and build solutions to design challenges using symbols of the season: apples and school supplies! Modification suggestions are included to make these challenges engaging and productive for students in grades 2 – 8.
Bring the joy back to your classroom with collaborative, hands-on, brain-busting work (disguised as fun)!
Note: This version is for use with Google Slides in 1:1 / paperless classrooms. If you prefer to print and have students complete work with paper/pencil, you’ll want to look at the printable version instead.
If you have questions about which version is right for you, please feel free to leave me a question using the product Q&A below.
There are five STEM design challenges included in this bundle:
This bundle saves you 40% off the cost of buying each challenge separately. What a bargain! ☺
Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified. Materials lists can be found in the product descriptions for each individual challenge linked above.
• Overall STEM Tips
– Suggestions on timing and whether or not to treat these challenges as competitions
– What to say (and what not to say) during STEM Challenges
– 5-event Data Tracker (Google Slide format & printable version)
NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8
– Links to STEM Challenge How-To videos
– Materials and timing
– Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)
– Measuring results
– Post-design extension activities list
– Link to a video walk-through of each challenge
– Criteria & Constraints List (editable version provided)
– Design Analysis
– Discussion Questions
– Process Flow Map
– Create & Solve Math Problems Based on Designs
– Several video / website slides for broadening understanding of forces & motion
– Plus, other design-specific extensions (see each individual challenge resource description page for more details)
Benefits of this STEM Design Challenge:
– Focus on critical thinking, problem solving, and application of learning
– Helps students develop growth mindset traits like persistence and resilience
– High levels of student engagement
– The potential to hit upon all NGSS ETS standards depending on the depth and number of iterations you choose to implement in your classroom (modifications included)
– Highly flexible and differentiated for materials, timing, grade levels, and rigor.
Each design iteration should be planned for ~60-90 min. if you are including data gathering and analysis rather than just building for fun. If you add extension activities, you will need to adjust timing accordingly.
What are teachers saying about this bundle?
Note: Comments taken from the print version on TpT.
“I loved this resource. I used it with my STEAM classes in middle school and they had a great time and were 100% engaged!”
“My Class loves these challenges! So easy to put to use in the classroom. I also am thankful for the videos. Thank you!”
“I learned I was teaching a year-long STEAM class the day before classes started. This bundle was a life saver. I am currently breaking it down into a 5 week challenge and used someone else’s suggestion of calling it the Fall Apple A-lympics. The PDFs and editable PPTs are easy to read and adapt. Materials can be found around the house or in the office, which is great for someone like me who was given last minute notice and doesn’t have a huge budget. The students are working on the Apples Afar challenge right now and they are enjoying it. Thank you for your wonderful work.”
“I plan on using this as Apple A-lympics for the first week of school. I love how differentiation is worked in the labs and different levels of difficulty are recommended.”